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International Journal of Hydrology Research

March 2018, Volume 3, 1, pp 1-11

Uncertainty Analysis and Calibration of Swat Model for Estimating Impacts of Conservation Methods on Streamflow and Sediment Yield in Thika River Catchment, Kenya

John Nganga Gathagu


Benedict M. Mutua


Khaldoon A. Mourad


Brian Omondi Oduor

John Nganga Gathagu 1 ,

Benedict M. Mutua 2
Khaldoon A. Mourad 3
Brian Omondi Oduor 1 
  1. Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences, Water Engineering, Tlemcen, Algeria 1

  2. Kibabii University, Planning, Partnerships, Research and Innovation, Bungoma, Kenya 2

  3. Lund University, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Sweden. 3

Pages: 1-11

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Article History:

Received: 15 February, 2018
Revised: 06 March, 2018
Accepted: 08 March, 2018
Published: 12 March, 2018


Despite their imperative role in water resources management, distributed hydrological models like SWAT require calibration that can be challenging due to uncertainties of parameters involved. Prior to modelling of hydrological processes, these parameters and their uncertainty range need to be identified. The objective of this study was to conduct uncertainty analysis of hydrological processes and to calibrate the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) for stream flow and sediment yield modelling in Thika River catchment. Sequential Uncertainty Fitting program (SUFI-2) was used to conduct sensitivity and uncertainty analysis. Stream flow was calibrated and validated between the years 1998 to 2013 for gauging stations 4CB05 and 4CB04. Manual sediments calibration was achieved by constraining the MUSLE parameters using the bathymetric survey data. Two uncertainty indices, p and r factor, were obtained as 0.72 and 0.65, 0.65 and 0.45 during calibration and validation, respectively. Statistical performance indicators showed a good match between the observed and simulated values which indicated that the model was well calibrated for simulation of stream flow and sediments yield in the catchment.
Contribution/ Originality
This study contributes in the existing literature on the estimation of base scenarios using sequential uncertainty fitting algorithm. The study outlines the analysis of parameter uncertainties and calibration for estimating impacts of conservation methods on stream flow and sediment yield.


Uncertainty, Sensitivity, SWAT, Streamflow, Sediment yield, Calibration, Validation.



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This study received no specific financial support.

Competing Interests:

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


All authors contributed equally to the conception and design of the study.

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